I’m an Eisen­hower and a Colom­bian

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Camila Men­doza Camila Men­doza, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence ma­jor at the Univer­sity of Mi­ami, is the daugh­ter of Ed­uardo Men­doza de la Torre and pho­tog­ra­pher Adriana Echavar­ria.

I want Pres­i­dent Trump to look at my last name. I want him to process that my great-great grand­fa­ther was the 34th pres­i­dent of the United States, and that my par­ents were born in Bo­gota, Colom­bia, mak­ing me — you guessed it — Colom­bian.

That re­al­ity is what makes the United States so ex­tra­or­di­nary. That we live in a coun­try where cit­i­zens come from ev­ery type of back­ground imag­in­able is re­mark­able. That we live in a na­tion where peo­ple give up ev­ery­thing to have the chance to study here, send their chil­dren here, and make a life here, is even more so. And it is Amer­ica’s honor and priv­i­lege to wel­come them.

Like many oth­ers, I did not sleep the night Trump was elected. The an­guish that con­sumed me and my fel­low New York­ers, this heart-wrench­ing feel­ing of dis­be­lief and ter­ror, is some­thing that will stay with me for­ever.

Dur­ing World War II, Dwight D. Eisen­hower fought to de­stroy the cancer­ous seeds of hate, greed and fear that were spread­ing through­out Europe. He did this to pre­vent fu­ture gen­er­a­tions from hav­ing to suf­fer through the same tragedies, to pre­vent fu­ture at­tacks on lib­erty, and to up­hold the val­ues and morals that make us proud to be Amer­i­can.

Alas, here we are again. Ex­cept this time the war for prin­ci­ples and ideals is on our soil. And this time it will be up to us to win it.

It is an un­der­state­ment to say that I strongly dis­agree with ev­ery­thing Trump has done in his first few weeks. His at­tempts to sus­pend the ad­mis­sion of new refugees to the USA, tem­po­rar­ily bar cit­i­zens from seven Mus­lim­ma­jor­ity coun­tries and place an in­def­i­nite ban on Syr­ian refugees are cat­a­strophic.

My fa­ther, Ed­uardo Men­doza de la Torre, was granted po­lit­i­cal asy­lum by the United States in 1992. If Amer­ica had not helped him leave Colom­bia, he would have been mur­dered — and I would not be writ­ing these words.

We are not a na­tion that al­lows suf­fer­ing to go un­no­ticed. Would it be eas­ier not to do any­thing? Would it be eas­ier to ig­nore other coun­tries’ prob­lems? Of course. But tak­ing the easy route never helped change lives.

As our ideals of com­pas­sion, courage and ac­cep­tance are thrown out the win­dow, our al­lies are iso­lated, press­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues go un­ad­dressed and the suf­fer­ing of im­mi­grants and refugees is dis­re­garded, we have to stand to­gether.

It does not help to say that Trump is “not my pres­i­dent” be­cause, un­for­tu­nately, he got the job. Yet we must re­main op­ti­mistic.

As Ike once said, “Pes­simism never won any bat­tles.” My prom­ise to him, to those who fought for ev­ery­thing we have to­day and to those who con­tinue to fight, to ev­ery U.S. ci­ti­zen who be­lieves that we are bet­ter than this, and most im­por­tant, to those who are suf­fer­ing — we will not give up. Re­mem­ber, Mr. Trump, tenac­ity will al­ways tri­umph over tyranny.

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